Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to get engagement, respect and votes

There is lots of speculation at the moment about who the next leader of the Labour Party should be. Some say Harriet Harman, some say Alan Johnson, some say Ed (or David) Miliband, some say Yvette Cooper. That's even without mentioning Ed Balls, James Purnell or Andy Burnham.

So many exceptional, talented choices, we are spoiled for choice, are we not? Obviously, only a blithering idiot would imagine that changing our leader at the moment would be a remotely sensible idea, but it is always good to plan for the future, and in a few years when thoughts turn towards securing that historic fifth term, decisions will have to be made.

I'm sure you all read the Bickerstaffe Record every day (if not, you should). Paul came up with an analogy for political pamphlets, which I think actually works even better as an explanation of the qualities that the next leader of the Labour Party should have:

"My very real experience over 25 years of all this being a nurse union/’community development/political bollox can be condensed to a pretty straightforward maxim: treat people as grown ups who are serious but also like a laugh, and you’ll get both ‘engagement’ and respect (and votes) back the other way.

Yes, you have to work at it, but it’s worth it.

The first time you meet a person who’s had a big disabling stroke and is so pissed off about it that he takes it out on you, her/himself and the rest of the world to the best of her/his remaining abilities (otherswise termionolgised in the nursing notes as ‘difficult stroke patient’, it’s pretty bloody difficult for both of you.

Keep treating with respect, keep having as good a laugh about stuff as you can in the circumstances, keep trying to work out what you can do together, keep seeing each other as people, and you’ll almost always get somewhere, unless one of you dies in the meantime (not uncommon).

Politics is like nursing, and pamphlets need to be same - keep them coming, keep doing the little things that count, keep your respect for people with less power than even you’ve got (reading Kant obsessively helps), keep making cunning plans even if they don’t come off."

So, which of our leadership contenders best exemplify these values?


At 7:53 pm , Anonymous Paul said...

The Bickerstaffe Record, you say? Sounds good. I must have a look.


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